Independent Physicians Oppose Contract Proposal
Four independent physician groups in San Diego County by Tuesday must decide whether they will contract exclusively with Sharp Community Medical Group and ask senior patients to enroll in PacifiCare's Secure Horizons Medicare managed care plan, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. SCMG, a 250-physician group affiliated with Sharp HealthCare, has an exclusive contract with Secure Horizons.
Forty-five physicians are affiliated with the independent physician groups.
Patients whose doctors contract with SCMG would have to enroll in Secure Horizons by June 1 or switch to a new physician covered by their current health plan. The change could affect about 22,000 patients.
Some physicians critical of the move say that it will negatively affect community hospitals and that patients and physicians should be able to choose hospitals, physicians and medical tests outside of the Sharp network. The physicians also say the move is an effort by Sharp to contract for insured patients.
However, the Union-Tribune reports that the change is motivated partly by Sharp's desire to implement an electronic medical records system to be used throughout the Sharp system.
Dr. Alan Schoengold, president of SCMG, said SCMG is working to streamline its operations by standardizing paperwork processes, referral protocols and accounting practices.
Dr. Rodney Hood, an internist who is leading the opposition to Sutter's proposal, wrote asking the Department of Managed Health Care to intervene in the matter, stating that the proposal is illegal and that it would "cause a severe disruption of critical medical services (for) ethnically and economically diverse" patients.
A DMHC spokesperson said the agency does not have jurisdiction over disputes between medical groups (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/26).